Quasi-Medieval Wiki-Fun

The best thing about the Wikipedia* is how easy it is to use it to accuse someone of assassinating someone famous. The second best thing is when you catch someone editing a page nefariously for comedy effect in the moments before some Good Samaritan of Internet Encyclopedias shows up to fix it.

While doing a spot check on which Pope was in charge during the 1130’s (Innocent II), I spotted this tiny bit of attempted hilarity. Instead of Pope Benedict XVI, the list of popes ended with:

Pontificate Common Name Regnal Name Personal Name
19 April 2005 to present Pope Palpatine I Darth Sidious, Episcopus Romanus Joseph Alois Ratzinger

For the record, by the time I reloaded the page, the entry had been changed back. According to the edit history, it took about twenty-four minutes for someone to spot the change and put right what once went wrong. But thanks to said edit history, the joke will remain as eternal as the page.

Someone should start a blog devoted to wiki-jokes. I’m sure there have been some good ones that don’t involve the JFK assassination. On the pope page alone, I found the attempted creation of a pope named Tin Tin XVI (“the first pope to covet a french cartoon character”) which lasted all of a minute, and then repeated attempts of a person called Schizoider to change the entire list of popes to a ten entry list helpfully entitled “THIS IS NOT VANDALISM”. Supporters of the popes rejected by the tyrrany of Wikipedia, like Pope Jew, Pope Hitler, Pope Queen Elizabeth II, and Pope Willy on Wheels were probably upset to find that said list only lasted for two hours before it was labeled vandalism by someone who clearly did not read the title. The war lasted for a couple of days back in October of 2005 before, presumably, the jokesters lost interest.

But if the jokesters had picked a less prominent target, wouldn’t it be very likely to remain for days and days? The Vatican probably has a rapid response team of crack commandos dedicated to keeping relavent wikipedia entries clean, holy, and doctrinal. But can the same be said of obscure U.S. Vice Presidents? Or twelfth century Swiss nobility? Or pretty much anything medieval? I’m the most techno-literate medievalist I know, and if I’m a good example, techno-literate medievalists are more interested in saving the Mushroom Kingdom from alien invasion than patrolling the Wikipedia.

I’ve long considered the article on the folk motif of the King in the Mountain to be an elaborate** wiki-joke, because it lists Teddy Roosevelt as one of those sleeping heroes, like King Arthur or Frederick Barbarossa, who will one day return to unite his land. I’m often tempted to change this entry, but always shot through with the doubt–What if there actually is a legend about the Once and Future Teddy Roosevelt? Or worse, what if it’s actually true? I don’t want to have to answer to a Zombie President who returns from the grave.

*Other than how its existence ensures that I have no need to even pretend that I have memorized the names and dates of rule of the medieval English monarchs.
**Elaborate, because according to the edit history, Teddy Roosevelt has been on the list of Kings in the Mountain since it was first created.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Dr. Virago

    Wow, I guess I’m not the only one who calls Benedict “Pope Palpatine.” I swear I didn’t edit the wikipedia entry, really!

    And btw, been meaning to say the “Personal of the Day” bit in the sidebar made me laugh.

  • President Leechman

    A while back I wanted to find out more about a Goon Show episode, and noticed there wasn’t any entry for the Battle of Spion Kop. Since all I knew about it was what I’d found out from the Goon Show, I put an entry in saying basically that it was a battle, and there was a Goon Show episode based on it.

    Next time I went back… apparently someone had googled and been offended by my whimsy. Now there was a long and useful entry but no mention of the Goon Show. I tried to put the reference to the Goon Show back in, but apparently they thought I was extracting the urine and kept kicking it out. I eventually gave up.

  • Tuffy

    I was so psyched when KaneCitizen of NewsOnTheMarch directed me to this post! There are so many funny things here, I don’t know where to start. One thing: As a non-Mario fan, it actually took me a minute to figure out that the Mushroom Kingdom doesn’t have some medieval significance.

    Less prominent entries do get policed avidly, though. When a friend of mine (who, coincidentally, spent his own grad school years guiding and protecting Sonic the Hedgehog) tinkered with the entry on bananas, his fake “childhood song” about how “bananas are made of meat” was vanquished within moments.

  • Karl the Grouchy Medievalist

    Directed to your blog via Berube, and then Virago. Nice stuff.

    This medievalist from parts South has done a little medieval fixin at the Wikipedia, but I can’t bear to check to see if it held up.

    I added Ratramnus of Corbie to the Cynocephali page and the story of Nicholas and the Three Clerks to the Sweeney Todd page (if you’re interested, check out the E. Delius edition, from the 1850s I think, of Wace’s Nicholas legend, where he provides both the Wace and a special bonus Middle English version. If your German is great, let me know what manuscript he got it from….)

  • My medieval masters has renaissance bits…

    Not medieval but there are some extremely cult things on wikipedia that can survive fiddling. The entry for “Uncle Max”, a somewhat obscure CITV show in Britain, was altered slightly to reference a work colleague. This is now at least a year old.

    Also they had a running attempt to claim another work colleague of ours was Tom Baker’s love child. That was much less successful.

  • My medieval masters has renaissance bits…

    Oh, and some techno-literate medievalists save the world from zombie menaces but same idea.

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